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Dr. Vicki P


Dr. Vicki P asks the TeachingPartners Community:

August 20, 2018

What is the best professional learning experience you’ve had? What made is so valuable?

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Sean Coffron

Better Lesson Design Studio, because it was personalized, hands-on, and gave an opportunity to apply theory and research-based strategies in a constructive environment.

Dr. Melanie House

I find that the best professional learning to date has happened in the “virtual” space. The ability to have memorable conversation as well as the face to face connections creates a rich community environment.

Kristin Donley

Space Camp for Educators was extremely valuable PD because I had the privilege to work with an outstanding, talented group of educators and it was hands-on. Anytime, you can do “choose your own adventure” workshops or EdCamps where educators share their expertise, teachers feel they have had a valuable PD. The PD has to be relevant, tied to their standards/school goals, and something they can bring to the classroom right away for it to be valuable, and for it to “stick.” Revisiting the PD topic throughout the year is also key. Avoid one-time shots as these rarely make an impact in the classroom. Creating a way for teachers to collaborate after the PD is also critical…I have created Schoology groups, for example, to keep the PLC networking going throughout the year.

Maria Puckett

The second year I taught our school was selected to be included in a grant from Dell. As part of the grant I was trained by Laying the Foundation(LTF). It was valuable because the instructors were teaching us how to see mathematics from K to 12. How each year was built in the year before. Also, they introduced me to incorporating activities into my lessons. I apply activities a much as possible. I am at a new school and the students have told me that their teachers never taught with students in groups or with activities.

Shelly Stanton

National Board Certification and Renewal were both amazing because they directly impacted my own learning goals and made me reflect on every interaction I have with children.

Linda Barnett

As a retired teacher, having taught 39 years, I participated in many professional learning experiences. Those that proved to me the most useful were those presented by teachers who taught the same population that I taught. Also those which provided a framework that I could finish according to my personality.

Angela Schoon

The best professional learning experience I have ever had was participating in a program where we videoed our teaching to be produced by the district for other teachers. Watching myself on video was an eye opening experience that I now recommend to everyone.

Barnett Berry

When I was practicing K-12 teacher — a long time ago — i never experienced anything close to what was later to become my best professional learning experience. My first powerful PL experience was in graduate school was when I was prepared in a team with 2 other doctoral students to engage in an extensive inquiry over the course of 6 months of data collection with our mentor (experienced expert) as collaborators in pursuing the investigation. Before the project was completed the grad students (including me) were leading the work. Later this effort became the basis for my dissertation on teacher professionalism. and then the dissertation led to my being hired as a social scientist at the RAND Corporation….

Beth Maloney

The best professional learning experience I’ve ever had was the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process because it is tailored to fit your current classroom practice with the students you teach every day. The process involves what you already know and do as a teacher and helps you to grow and reflect from there. It also introduced me to a community of like-minded teachers that I consistently learn with and from. It changed my teaching trajectory and kept me happily in the classroom. It is so uniquely different than the “spray and pray,” undifferentiated, one-size-fits-all approach to traditional professional learning in those ways. It is valuable because the National Board standards are what accomplished teachers believe and do in their classrooms every day.

Allison Riddle

The best professional learning experiences I have had are those where teachers are engaged in gameplay as if they were the students. I am an academic at heart, and as such, I enjoy professional lectures and readings. But when I experience activities in the same structure and format my students will, I truly appreciate what my students will experience. I am better able to differentiate the activities to meet the needs of all the learners in my room because I know first hand what the activity will feel like! I enjoy attending professional learning sessions where all the participants are willing to dive in as if they were the students themselves. The energy is contagious, and the collaborative conversations afterward provide rich resources of lesson extensions. Teaching is learning. To be an excellent teacher, one must first be a willing and motivated learner!

Christopher Bronke

Honestly, while this might seem a bit strange, my best PL has always been having a drink with a few colleagues after work. Truth be told, in some respect, that is how the National Blogging Collaborative was born. There is an authenticity to that situation: it is real, teacher-drive, and without pressure or artificial “accountability”–just great teachers talking about what great teaching is.

Kelly Southern

The best professional development is learning from other teachers. I love taking their ideas and tweaking them to work in my own classroom. It’s even better when no tweaking is necessary! Other teachers are our most valuable resources because their experiences are incredible–not to mention their knowledge bases!

Actual training, though, is a different story. The best PD was for project-based learning. It was so valuable because other teachers from my school attended as well. We worked together on a project. This made it easier to bring the information back to school. Most importantly… IT WAS FUN!

Michael Dunlea

The best professional learning experience I have ever experienced is a collection of events. I have been in two national teacher fellowships and belong to a national organization of very successful teachers that have had multi- year gatherings where leaders of education regularly came and sparked inspiring conversations. These conversations lit a fire in me to examine my long held beliefs of learning and teaching. I learned so much in the safe space these groups provided me. I was comfortable admitting I didn’t know what flexible seating was or asking why should I consider pursuing National Board Certification. These experiences began a major transformation in how my classroom looks and operates now.

The reason it was so valuable was that at the core it was built on relationships. I met and became professionally and socially connected to amazing educators from across the country. These relationships were my support system as I risked failure and tried new approaches, new methods and expanded my thinking when approaching teaching and learning. The community I found in these organizations has carried me to a new level of teaching.

The bar was raised and I felt the support to be bold enough to reach for it and achieve the success I saw in so many others.

Marguerite Izzo

I have experienced the full spectrum of professional learning experiences, from the “spray and pray” mind-numbing lectures to the interactive, challenging experiences that stay with me forever. I will focus on three of the most positive.

Creating my presentation for TeachingPartners and then being a mentor for so many outstanding TeachingPartners presentations genuinely improved my teaching practice. Participating in the NNSTOY Teacher Leader Modules as a developer, presenter, and attendant greatly expanded my abilities as a teacher leader.
Engaging in a district-level three-hour Saturday morning session on excellent pedagogy helped my think more deeply about how I construct a lesson.

The reasons why all three of these experiences were the best professional learning experiences are because they were grounded in research, were interactive, were led by expert current practitioners, and were delivered at a time and place outside of my full-time teaching job.

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